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Old 04-11-2018, 10:05 AM   #1
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Batteries not charging while traveling

Help me out here experts. While traveling down the road my house batteries are not charging so the refrigerator is pulling them down. When plugged in at campsites they do seem to charge up to about 13.2 volts. When boondocking I set the autogen and it kicks on after about 2 hours so it appears my batteries may be shot. However shouldn't the alternator supply enough power while traveling to keep them up enough to run the fridge? Dash gauge shows 14 volts with engine running. I have a '16 Anthem 44B.

Thanks,
Mallory
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:15 AM   #2
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Yep, should have plenty of power from the alternator to keep the house up. I am not familiar with your specific coach. Do you have a voltmeter on the house bank, or even the old 4 LED panel. You should be seeing that 14 volts on the house, if not, you have a bad isolation solenoid (somewhere) which is preventing the alternator voltage from reaching the house battery bank. Maybe you have a BCC, maybe not. Do you have a battery boost switch to start up the diesel? If you do, does it work? Do you hear it click?

Best I can do without seeing what you have. Pardon me if you have a much more sophisticated unit than I am used to.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:22 AM   #3
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If batteries are questioned, best to have them "Load Tested" at your local auto parts store or where ever you might buy new. You can but a inexpensive load tester at Walmart or on Amazon and perform the test yourself, then not dragging them around......till you locate a place for replacement's. Even new batteries can fail.........I bought a load tester and test mine twice a year......just to keep a eye out for a failing battery that will drag the other's down......
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:27 AM   #4
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Hey Mallory, With the engine running check the magnum display and see if the batteries are taking a charge from the alternator. As Scott mentioned, it could be a battery isolator. If they are taking a charge and charging, but they only last 2 hours, the batteries are shot. You stated charging on shore power was only lasting 2 hours would indicate bad batteries.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:31 AM   #5
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Check the battery bank voltage without charging. Then enable charging source - the voltage should increase by about 1 volt. If no change - not charging.

For the alternator not charging the house batteries many coaches have a solenoid that energizes to tie the house batteries to the chassis batteries to enable charging. This solenoid is a high fail item. Also could be the circuit that energizes the solenoid.

Often this same solenoid is also used for the aux/boost start function. If that is also inop likely your problem.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:46 AM   #6
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Even if all you have is a 4 LED battery condition panel, the one thing that it is good for (actually the only thing) is to verify charging. Most people think that the 4th led is for 100% charge...it isn't...it is for charging and only lights when the voltage is about 13 volts or so, which no battery can supply regardless of the state of charge, only a converter or alternator can light that 4th LED!
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:50 AM   #7
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Mallory

You have had several good suggestions that will help you begin to understand what is going on in your system. I will add partial data that may help.

757Driver (Don) usually chimes in with the real poop on this issue and assume he will here. What he says (and I partially understand) is that the alternator does not charge the house batteries all the time you are traveling, but charges the engine start batteries for a while, and then looks at the house batteries and if their voltage is below a certain voltage, there is a solinoid that will direct the alternator charge to the house for ONE HOUR. After one hour, the system will examine the house battery voltage without the alternator adding to the charge, and if the voltage is above a certain voltage, will not charge the house battieries again for an extended period. I took some notes when this last came up and put them in my phone, but they may be wrong. My notes are that the system will charge the house if the house resting voltage is less than 12.6 volts and the engine start batteries are higher than 13.1 volts.

Your house batteries should definitely last a lot longer than 2 hours if they are fully charged and only doing the fridge. On my 15, you had to be sure that the Magnum controller was set with the LED light showing that the charger was "on". It was not necessarily "on" even though the inverter was ON... both the inverter and the charger needed to be "on". I once thought that my charger in the Magnum was not charging the house, and then noticed that the "charge" function had gotten turned off....not by me, but by "something" unknown. If your chargers are turned on, then you should be seeing above 13 to maybe 13.5 volts across the battery pair when plugged into shore power. If you dont have a Volt-Ohm-Meter (VOM) or a Digital Volt Ohm Meter (DVM), then you need to buy one. Harbor Freight has variaous qualities and I would buy a reasonably good one. I invested in a good DVM made by Fluke. The biggest difference in price is often if the meter auto-ranges (finds the right voltage range automatically for the voltage you are measuring), versus having to enter the right range yourself. Check the voltage when connected to shore power, when disconnected from shore power, an with the Cummins running. You should see quickly what is going on.

Maybe Don will get in here and set us straight, or someone else who really knows the nuance of how this process works.

Oh, and the Discover AGMs in our coaches are not the best. Take a serious look at the LifeLine equivalents if you have to replace... pricey but very good.

Gary
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:14 AM   #8
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I am pretty sure that your batteries are actually shot...but that is the symptom and not the cause...if you drive a lot and run a residential reefer. If your alternator is not charging you house batteries they have been discharged way below 50% many times. This will kill a deep cycle battery. The lack of the alternator charging your batteries is probably the cause and it probably happened a long time ago.

You see 13.2 when on shore or generator power since that is the voltage that the converter (Magnum or other) puts out when running. Has little to do with your battery state of charge. The fact that the AGS runs after 2 hours is also indicative that you batteries have no residual capacity left.

However, before you replace them, you need to get the alternator side working to charge the house. If that failed, that is where everything went wrong and the fact that your house goes dead when driving pretty much nails it.

I know that the Magnum is "smart" and cycles the house charge based on a lot of variables (starting battery SOC, house SOC, etc) but it would never let the house go flat with the alternator running...if it could help it!
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:47 AM   #9
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One other simple thing to check. Make sure the block heater isn't plugged in. I don't know what year it was corrected, but older entegra's had the block heater on one of the inverter circuits. That 1000 watt drain would gradually cause the batteries to discharge while driving and could explain your other symptoms. Block heater plug is in the engine compartment.
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Old 04-11-2018, 07:37 PM   #10
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Batteries not charging while traveling

Ding ding ding. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. I just read the replies and started checking the simple things first. The award goes to voltdoc. I just checked my block heater and sure enough it was plugged in. I have no memory of ever plugging it in but I must have at some time. My batteries still may or may not be shot, time will tell. I will be traveling for six months starting Saturday and will know soon so will report back. Thanks to all that replied with the great suggestions. I LOVE this forum.

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Old 04-12-2018, 04:54 PM   #11
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Way to goooooo,, Rob !

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Old 04-12-2018, 05:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voltdoc View Post
One other simple thing to check. Make sure the block heater isn't plugged in. I don't know what year it was corrected, but older entegra's had the block heater on one of the inverter circuits. That 1000 watt drain would gradually cause the batteries to discharge while driving and could explain your other symptoms. Block heater plug is in the engine compartment.
Took block heater and basement off the inverter in 2017.
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Old 04-12-2018, 06:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollin101 View Post
Took block heater and basement off the inverter in 2017.
Good info thanks, thought it might have been '16...
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Old 04-13-2018, 08:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary.Jones View Post
Mallory

You have had several good suggestions that will help you begin to understand what is going on in your system. I will add partial data that may help.

757Driver (Don) usually chimes in with the real poop on this issue and assume he will here. What he says (and I partially understand) is that the alternator does not charge the house batteries all the time you are traveling, but charges the engine start batteries for a while, and then looks at the house batteries and if their voltage is below a certain voltage, there is a solinoid that will direct the alternator charge to the house for ONE HOUR. After one hour, the system will examine the house battery voltage without the alternator adding to the charge, and if the voltage is above a certain voltage, will not charge the house battieries again for an extended period. I took some notes when this last came up and put them in my phone, but they may be wrong. My notes are that the system will charge the house if the house resting voltage is less than 12.6 volts and the engine start batteries are higher than 13.1 volts.

Your house batteries should definitely last a lot longer than 2 hours if they are fully charged and only doing the fridge. On my 15, you had to be sure that the Magnum controller was set with the LED light showing that the charger was "on". It was not necessarily "on" even though the inverter was ON... both the inverter and the charger needed to be "on". I once thought that my charger in the Magnum was not charging the house, and then noticed that the "charge" function had gotten turned off....not by me, but by "something" unknown. If your chargers are turned on, then you should be seeing above 13 to maybe 13.5 volts across the battery pair when plugged into shore power. If you dont have a Volt-Ohm-Meter (VOM) or a Digital Volt Ohm Meter (DVM), then you need to buy one. Harbor Freight has variaous qualities and I would buy a reasonably good one. I invested in a good DVM made by Fluke. The biggest difference in price is often if the meter auto-ranges (finds the right voltage range automatically for the voltage you are measuring), versus having to enter the right range yourself. Check the voltage when connected to shore power, when disconnected from shore power, an with the Cummins running. You should see quickly what is going on.

Maybe Don will get in here and set us straight, or someone else who really knows the nuance of how this process works.

Oh, and the Discover AGMs in our coaches are not the best. Take a serious look at the LifeLine equivalents if you have to replace... pricey but very good.

Gary
Gary,

You got it right. Alternator through the Battery Isolation Manager will charge the house batteries going down the road for a period of one hour IF the chassis batteries are above 13.1v AND the house batteries are below 12.6v. Hooked up to shore power or generator running reverse happens from house batteries to chassis batteries.
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